Over the years, IKEA has conducted some of the world’s largest research studies on child development and play. In 2017, IKEA continued to explore the topic by researching the importance of play for adults as well as children. This year’s play research seeks to understand what motivates and hinders play, as well as how people across cultures think we will be playing in the future.
“Since we believe that play is critical for a better everyday life at home, we were curious to understand what drives people’s need to play – now and in the future. Truly understanding play help us to enable a more playful everyday life,” says Maria Thörn, range competence manager at IKEA Range & Supply.
IKEA Play Report 2017 used a new mixture of qualitative research methodologies such as play visits, a continuous 8-month survey of an online community, expert interviews and a co-creation workshop with IKEA co-workers and consumers. The study, which included a diverse group of people between the ages of 2 and 90, was conducted in Germany, the US and China, engaging with more than 350 people.
“We have stretched ourselves to meet people wherever they are in life to gain a deep understanding of the emotional aspects of playing. By using a mix of qualitative research methodologies and an analytical framework, we strived to come as close as possible to capturing people’s true emotions related to play,” says Lydia Choi-Johansson, intelligence specialist at IKEA Range & Supply.
The report identifies five key motivators of why we play – to connect, to express, to explore, to repair and to escape – and the mental and emotional benefits inherent in them. While the research finds that the five motivations driving people to play likely will stay the same in the future, where and how people play will probably change. The report highlights seven trends that people believe will influence how we will be playing in the next 10 years, including:
- Personalized Play. People will have personal ‘play plans’, designed to ensure the best possible play benefits.
- Blurring Boundaries. From the workplace to the gym, people will look to play in traditionally non-playful spaces.
- Multi-Sensory. People will play in artificial environments designed to engage all of their senses.
- Digital Connections. Technology increasingly enables people to play with like-minded across the world.
- Playful Chores. The majority of household chores will become games.
- Crafting. Is a growing trend, empowering people to take ownership of their own creativity.
- Back to Retro. From old board games to the Game Boy, there is an increasing desire to keep play simple.
“One of the biggest things we have learned in this year’s research is that play is unanimously seen to be a power for good, but that there are many barriers that prevent us from playing, such as stress and responsibilities at work, as well as a common notion among adults that it is socially unacceptable to embrace a playful mind-set. This might however change in the future. People tell us that as the benefits of playing becomes better recognized, adults as well as children will have more permission to play,” says Lydia Choi-Johansson.
The insights in the report will help inform the development of new playful products and solutions across the home. By sharing the research, IKEA hope to spark discussions between all people interested in play.
“This year’s research has strengthened our belief that play is critical for a better everyday life at home. It shows us that part of our job in creating a better everyday life must be to spark even more playfulness into the home,” says Maria Thörn.
To celebrate the importance of play in our everyday lives, IKEA is incorporating playful experiences at stores worldwide through interactive games and activities sprinkled within showroom floors during the Let’s Play for Change campaign during fall 2017.
Explore Play Report 2017 or follow #IKEAPlayReport2017 for more insights.